Category Archives: Our Story

Outstanding Riverside Mother Wins Mom Of The Year

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Kathryn Hawkins on April 28, 2010. This article also contains excerpts from the article written by Marina Khidekel and published in Parents Magazine on May 2010.)

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Congratulations to Riversider Jaci Hasemeyer for being selected as MOM OF THE YEAR on the Steve Harvey TV show last week!

About Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer:

In 1996, Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer already had three children, and had believed their family was complete. But when Jaci, a P.E. teacher at a Riverside, California elementary school, handed out coupons for a local skating rink one day, the response she received from a 5th grade boy made her think twice.

The boy, who was a foster child living in a group house, told Jaci that he didn’t need the coupon because he didn’t have anyone to take him skating.

“My heart just broke,” Jaci told Parents Magazine. “I couldn’t stop thinking that we had to do something to help kids like him.”

So Jaci and her family began to look into options, and discovered that there were hundreds of local children in need of a supportive family home. They applied to become a foster family, and in the years since, they’ve opened their home to more than 30 foster children—and have adopted nine of them.

“Our philosophy has always been that if a child is not returned to her parents or relatives or moved elsewhere by the court, then our home would be their final stop, their ‘forever home,’” said Jaci.

But the drive to provide a home to children in need didn’t stop in the Hasemeyer household. When the family’s friends and neighbors became aware of what the Hasemeyers were doing, they, too, were inspired to foster and adopt. Now, 20 families in the Hasemeyers’ neighborhood have adopted 50 children.

The Hasemeyers are committed to helping other families learn about fostering and adoption possibilities, and have dedicated their lives to the movement. Several years ago, Eric quit his job as a stockbroker and went back to school for a master’s in counseling. He now runs a center that serves as an adoption resource for both prospective parents and women who must give up their children.

And in 2006, the Hasemeyers’ oldest daughter, Krista, organized the Walk Your Talk Walk, a fundraising event to raise awareness of foster children. In the first year, the walk raised $1,500, but last year, it collected more than $30,000, and churches throughout Southern California modeled their own fundraisers after the event.

Now that the Hasemeyers have 12 children, it’s a pretty full house. But even though they’re not planning on any more adoptions, they are passionate about helping other families connect with children who need homes.

“Each evening when we look around the dinner table, we come face-to-face with the good that comes of adoption,” Jaci said. “Our kids have added so much to our family, and the simplest message is that everyone can make a difference in the life of a child.”

Interested in learning more about fostering or adopting a child? Check out or the National Foster Parent Association.

Riversiders commitment to making one another’s lives a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of Jaci and Eric Hasemeyer demonstrate that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

CBU Honors Record 1,420 Graduates During Spring Commencement

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in CBU News & Events on May 2, 2015)

commencement photo.jpg
Photo Credit: CBU News & Events

Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, president of California Baptist University, congratulated 1,420 graduating students during afternoon and evening commencement ceremonies at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. Afternoon exercises included 717 traditional undergraduate degree candidates, while the evening ceremony honored 703 students, including all master’s degree candidates, as well as undergraduates from Online and Professional Studies programs.

Ellis noted that the class was part of a record enrollment for the 2014-2015 academic year, with 7,957 enrolled at CBU.

“They have contributed to the continuing growth of CBU’s campus culture as ‘a University Committed to the Great Commission’ during an exciting time of continuing growth and improvement,” Ellis said. “Each of these graduating students has arrived at this point because of a shared commitment to the challenging yet rewarding endeavor of higher education.”

California Baptist University is always expanding and improving in a remarkable fashion.  Representing Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar, CBU’s record number of graduates helps improve the local and global economy and improves our already outstanding quality of life.

Combined with students who graduated last December, the Class of 2015 totals 1,946 applications for graduation, the largest number for a single year in CBU history.

To read the full article, click here.

Kids With Special Needs Get Super Bowl Of Their Own

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in the RUSD News on January 29, 2015)

Photo Credit: RUSD
Photo Credit: RUSD

More than 200 special needs students from across the Riverside Unified School District celebrated Super Bowl Sunday at few days early on Wednesday, Jan. 28 as Poly High School hosted its second annual Super Bowl for Kids event.

This event gave students in kindergarten through sixth grades the opportunity experience the excitement of being part of a high school football team. As students arrived, they ran through a welcoming row of cheerleaders and through the Poly Bear tunnel. The Poly band played the fight song as each student got out on the field, grabbed a football and made a touchdown with help from members of the Poly football team.

And, just like a real game, colorful posters lined the fence near the stands, which were, of course, filled with crowds of cheering fans. Television news crews were on hand to capture all of the action.

Lisa Miller, Special Education Student Advisor at Poly, said the event benefits special needs students by letting them be part of an exciting school activity they might not otherwise be able to participate in. It also helps the high school students learn respect and acceptance of others.

“It puts a smile on my face. It’s just really heartwarming,” noted sophomore quarter back Alec Quintero. “Seeing these kids smile, it’s just a good feeling.”

“This speaks to the spirit of the Poly community and the RUSD community,” added Poly Principal, Dr. Michael Roe.

Miller said Poly is excited to keep the tradition of Super Bowl for Kids going and added that they likely will invite middle and high school students to participate next year.

Events like this truly demonstrates what makes Riverside such a unified city. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

For the complete article, click here.

Riverside’s Little Choir That Could

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Diane A. Rhodes and published in The Press Enterprise on January 18, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise

Tenacity. Grit. Determination. Fortitude. The meaning of the words are clear, but how often are these traits demonstrated in real-life situations?

The Hillcrest Show Choir, at Riverside’s Hillcrest High School, is a group of about 100 singers that have sacrificed a lot – collectively and individually – to bring entertainment to others.

When the school opened in the fall of 2012, it did not have a choir. A group of students started a petition to create one. Twenty student signatures were required to have the class considered — all 20 are still part of the choir in its third year.

Getting a choir class approved was just the beginning. Another obstacle in bringing this fine arts course to the school was logistical. With a full slate of academic classes during the day and sports programs after that, there was no time it could be scheduled when interested, but active students could participate. They requested to have it held during “zero” period, from 6:28 to 7:25 a.m. Their persistence paid off and choir members continue to rise to the challenge each morning.

“We are not a show choir by industry standards where we go to competitions and festivals and such,” choir director Beth Schwandt said. “We have a bunch of kids who want to have music in their lives and go out into their community to put on shows.”

Schwandt said one of the Alvord School District’s core values is inclusiveness and she is proud to accomplish this with a choir that does not require an audition to join. As a result, she has attracted an eclectic melting pot of students that grows steadily with each school year. The choir’s inclusiveness is a great example of seizing our destiny’s unified city pillar, they demonstrate that we’re a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all. The long-standing diversity of the City provides a comfortable home for people from all backgrounds, cultures, and interests.

“They are a tribute to starting from nothing and fighting to create a culture of well-rounded musicians, athletes, thespians, scholars, volunteers, student leaders and friends,” Schwandt said. “My greatest joy is watching them walk up the stairs to class when it’s still pitch black and freezing cold outside and enjoying that hour together.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Youth Judo Club Competes At The Largest Judo Tournament

Riverside Youth Judo Club is lined up in the middle. (Largest group of competitors)
Riverside Youth Judo Club is lined up in the middle. (Largest group of competitors)

The Riverside Youth Judo Club, a project of the Police Activities League, competed at the largest National Judo Tournament in the U.S. Saturday, December 6, 2014.  There were 709 competitors from all over the country (as far as New York, South Carolina, Florida, and Hawaii), along with a total of 100 veteran, long-standing judo clubs.

The two-year old “fledgling” judo club brought the largest group of fighters to the event.  The club had 50 competitors, many of which had never previously competed.  They are a charitable, non-profit club and have many students (about 50%) who are economically disadvantaged and sponsored by the City and Police Activities League.  They had several generous contributions from members of the Riverside Police Department and the judo club who helped sponsor many of the competitors, covering their $50 entrance fee.  They were able to fundraise the rest with Candy and Apple sales.

Riverside Youth Judo Club finished the day ranked as the #3 Top-Winning club of the tournament (again, out of 100 judo clubs attending).  They were only outdone by the 2nd largest judo club in the Country (Goltz Club) and the historical and aggressive Hayastan club.  The club outperformed 96 Judo clubs represented at the National Tournament!

It’s great that youth involved in the Judo Club have an opportunity to compete and do well because of the generosity of a community that cares.  Sponsorships and hard work from the City and Police Activities League continually model Riverside as a unified city.

To read more about the Riverside Youth Judo Club, click here.

“Ideas Worth Spreading”: TEDx Riverside Speakers United By Ideas

(This article contains excerpts from article by Kurt Miller, published in the Press-Enterprise on October 16,2014.)

TEDx Riverside brought together 20 speakers for an eight-hour marathon of inspiration on Thursday at the Fox Performing Arts Center.   TED conferences are brought to communities throughout the world to encourage a convergence of technology, design and entertainment.  To promote education, TEDx Riverside gave 500 tickets to local high schools and filled the balcony with teenagers. It provided buses and lunch for students of Riverside Unified School District.  

“Everybody in this room is a lifelong learner,” Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey declared in his opening remarks.

Nobel Prize winner and UC Riverside alumni Richard Schrock.  Photo credit: City of Riverside
Nobel Prize winner and UC Riverside alumni Richard Schrock. Photo credit: City of Riverside

Most of the speakers had Inland ties, but many have wide renown.  They included Nobel laureate Richard Schrock, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Riverside in 1967 and is now a chemistry professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another UCR graduate was Steve Breen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning and a children’s author.

Among the more unusual presentations was performance artist Gregory Adamson creating a 6-by-6-foot painting of John Lennon in 11 minutes, accompanied by a medley of Lennon and Beatles songs. Photo credit: Fielding Buck
Among the more unusual presentations was performance artist Gregory Adamson creating a 6-by-6-foot painting of John Lennon in 11 minutes, accompanied by a medley of Lennon and Beatles songs. Photo credit: Fielding Buck

The TEDx Riverside event was a model of all the Seizing Our Destiny pillars.  Riversiders from of all ages and backgrounds attended the event on Thursday October, 16 as a unified city with a common interest to be entertained and inspired.  Although each speaker was completely different, they all seem to be on the same wavelength of maximizing personal potential and advocating intelligent growth in our community.  Riverside is a city that honors and builds on its assets to become a location of choice that catalyzes innovation in all forms, while enhancing quality of life.

To read more about TEDx Riverside, click here.

Regional Intelligence Report Highlights Positive News for Riverside

(Excerpts from this article were taken from the Beacon Economic Intelligence Report prepared by Beacon Economics and released on September 22, 2014.)

The seventh edition of the Beacon Economics Regional Intelligence Report continues to show positive growth in Riverside’s economy.  Unemployment is declining in the Inland Empire (8.5% as of July 2014) and the city has recovered nearly 9,700 jobs since a low point in March 2010.  There’s been growth in the Leisure and Hospitality sector increasing 7.5% from July 2013 to July 2014.  The new Riverside Convention Center, with 65,000 square feet of meeting space, should increase convention traffic into the City of Riverside, which should bring higher demand for hotel accommodations in and outside of the city.

Photo Credit: Beacon Economic Intelligent Report
Photo Credit: Beacon Economic Intelligent Report

Another area of growth was employment in the Education and Health sector which saw a 25% increase over the last year.  This sector is vital to the City of Riverside’s economy, constituting approximately 18% of total employment in the City.

The report highlights several areas of Seizing Our Destiny’s pillars including intelligent growth and location of choice.  Continuous positive economic numbers are important to gauge our economic recovery.  Reporting this data is also important so Riversiders know the hard work is paying off.

A few other highlights:

  • Taxable sales in the City have risen 11.5% over the past year.
  • Home sales increased 4.9% to 908 homes from the first quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2014.
  • Apartment vacancy rates in the City have fallen to 2.4%, a 25% decrease from a year ago.

For a complete copy of the report, click here.

CBU Makes List Of The Nation’s “Best Colleges” For 9th Straight Year

(This article contains excerpts from an article published on on September 9, 2014.)

U.S. News & World Report has included California Baptist University on it’s list of the nation’s “Best Colleges” for the ninth straight year.  CBU is ranked No. 38 in the West in the publication’s “Best Regional Universities” category for 2015 , up from No. 42 in the previous years rankings and No. 58 in 2013.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

“This year’s ranking once again reflects the improvement in quality that California Baptist University continually strives to provide in order to enhance students’ overall experience,” said Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, CBU President.

California Baptist University’s progression on the list of “Best Regional Universities” is an outstanding representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar.  Only through commitment and dedication can a great University continue to make academic strides and accelerate quality of education for all of the students. Riverside has increasingly become the location of choice for college bound individuals from all over the world.

“Best Colleges” rankings are featured in U.S. News& World Report each year to aid prospective students and their parents looking for the best academic values for their money.  Now in its 30th year, the annual comparative listing uses a quantitative system of 16 weighted indicators of academic excellence to rank universities.  Those indicators include: student selectivity; retention and graduation rate; assessment by peer institutions; faculty resources; financial resources and alumni giving.

To read the full article, click here.